UK Politics

Nigel Farage predicts UKIP success in elections across UK

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Media captionNigel Farage predicts election gains

UKIP will win at least five seats on the Welsh Assembly as part of a UK-wide "breakthrough" in Thursday's polls, its leader Nigel Farage has said.

He said his party was on course to win its first ever seats in Cardiff - where it is campaigning heavily - and in the Northern Ireland and London Assemblies.

It was "50-50" whether the party would gain representation in the Scottish Parliament for the first time, he said.

He declined to put a target on UKIP gains in English council elections.

UKIP is campaigning on multiple fronts as it seeks to become the only UK party to get people elected to the National Assembly of Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly as well as the Greater London Assembly.

The party has focused much of its time and resources in Wales, where it won 13% of the vote in last year's general election.

Opinion polls suggest UKIP is set to win seats for the first time despite a row over its candidate selection process.

Mr Farage told the BBC's Daily Politics: "There will be a breakthrough in Wales. I think we are going to win five seats - we may do slightly better than that. Let's see."

Local base

As for England, Mr Farage would not be drawn on how many seats it would gain but said its record in local government was a good one and he predicted it would consolidate its position in its existing strongholds in Essex and South Yorkshire.

"We will make gains. To try and guess how many is virtually impossible. In Thurrock, I think we will become the biggest party on that council, in Rotherham we have a chance of becoming the biggest party on that council.

"There are 500 local UKIP councillors. Our local base is growing, the people who have had elected have behaved, on the whole, pretty well and been very diligent and worked very hard. Yes, we will improve."

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There has been speculation about the future of the party, and a possible change in direction, whatever the outcome of June's referendum on EU membership.

Mr Farage said if there was a narrow vote to stay in the EU, a lot of Conservative and Labour supporters would be unable to reconcile themselves with the result and their party leadership's stance and UKIP could find itself "a lot bigger than it is now".

If there was a vote to leave, he said UKIP would need to "stay around" to ensure that the people's will was "implemented" but he conceded that it would need to show it could talk about issues other than Europe.

And he rejected suggestions that UKIP - which only managed to get one MP elected in last year's general election despite winning 12% of the vote - was treading water nationally, citing a recent YouGov opinion poll which put it on 20%.

"We are now at the highest we have ever been as a party - what more can I do?"

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